By Derek Fleming, staff writer, WNFC
There are few rivalries in the WNFC that are more hard-fought than the one between the San Diego Rebellion and the Los Angeles Legends. Dual-threat quarterback Knengi Martin knew the Week 8 match-up would be yet another classic battle between the two teams from Southern California, and with an undefeated season and the Number 1 seed on the line, the Rebellion needed to get a win. Martin has been named Pacific Player of the Week for Week 8 for their efforts.
Early in the game, Martin realized that the Legends were dialing up a scheme to shut down San Diego’s potent passing game. Undeterred, Martin opened up the ground attack and recorded 50 yards on 10 carries, with three totes going for touchdowns.
“I’m just glad that I was able to help my team,” Martin said. “I know I only had 50-yards on the ground, but I think they were meaningful yards. To be able to give to my team like that with punishing yards and defense, I was pretty happy with how I played.”
Not only did Martin earn chunks of yards and three scores, they made it possible for others to get in on the action. WNFC league-leading rusher Adriana Gutierrez added 99 yards to her season totals, Regina Escoto and Melina Malaxos also got in on the running action.
Despite the defensive focus on attacking the pass, Martin connected on four passes totaling 22-yards. Their coaches point out that it wasn’t just on offense that Martin made a huge impact.
“Knengi Martin had a statement game with highlights on offense and defense,” head coach Bandon Archie said. “When the opposing team’s defense decided to focus on shutting down the passing game, Martin showed that they are truly a dual-threat and made them pay. The defense did not have an answer for Martin’s punishing running style as it often took a pile of defenders to eventually bring Martin down - if they got the QB down at all.”
Even though Martin is known as one of the top quarterbacks in the league, they spent the first 15 years of their 19-year career playing defense. On Saturday, they reminded the Legends of their extensive experience, earning a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery that they nearly returned for a touchdown.
Beyond the stats, Martin was part of a defensive effort that held the Legends to only 40 yards of total offense and shut out the Southern California rivals.
“In a week when teams needed to make bold moves, Martin helped their team achieve a perfect record and showed why they are one of the best all-around athletes in the league this year," Archie said.
Martin said that they understand why their coaches limit the number of snaps they get on defense, but the opportunity to get on the field is something they cherish.
“When given my opportunities, I always try to take advantage,” Martin said. “Angela Mims had a just crushing hit on the quarterback, and that was what helped force that fumble, I know I got all the credit for it because I nabbed it, if Angela did not put the hit on her, I’m not sure that fumble would have happened.”
San Diego is hosting the playoff tournament this season, and Martin said they are excited to take the field against Utah in the first round.